Is there an opportunity to bridge the gap between online shopping and in-store retail? This is the question many businesses ask as they look to keep their in-store shoppers coming back while also appealing to digital consumers.
Shoppers Want Tech
Several new surveys have been conducted to determine the future of in-store technology. A survey from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) revealed that 62 percent of shoppers want access to products and sizes in-store without having to talk to a salesperson; 55 percent are interested in some form of virtual reality to aid with home décor shopping; and 54 percent are interested in an app that will help them locate items in the store that have been saved to a personal shopping list.
Some stores and shopping centers are adopting technology for integrated shopping. For example, Target has its Cartwheel app, which alerts shoppers of new sales and allows them to save coupons for items within a chosen category. At checkout, the saved discounts have been consolidated into one convenient bar code, which is then scanned and applied to valid purchases in their shopping cart.
Apps are clearly where it’s at when it comes to combining online shopping with an in-store experience. The success of this platform spans Millennial, Generation X, and Baby Boomer age groups, with the majority of shoppers accessing retailer apps on a weekly basis. Still, mobile apps aren’t the only retail technology streamlining the consumer experience.
New Buying Technology Eliminates Wallets
Other opportunities for retail technology improvements include mobile pay options like Visa with Apple Pay. With services such as Apple Pay, shoppers no longer need their wallet, rather, a simple tap of their iPhone, iWatch, or iPad at checkout. In fact, one Zynstra survey confirms that mobile payment capabilities are the most in-demand technology for retailers, followed by self-checkout.
So, while retail apps are becoming more robust, and businesses continue adapting mobile payment options, what will the future of retail technology look like? Three trending tech topics within the retail sector include robots, drones, and virtual assistants.
What’s Next for Retail Technology?
While we see several retail companies dabbling in these technologies, such as Amazon with its drone delivery options, many are entering a pruning phase with these new technologies. Retailers like Lowe’s are experimenting with in-store robots to help shoppers locate and retrieve items, as well as helping employees to better manage inventory.
Apple’s Siri was the first of many in a long line of digital assistants to be created. This technology is quickly developing from a simple voice-activated search engine and appointment-maker to a full-blown personal assistant. Companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, and Google are developing their own digital assistant software to support everyday activities, including online shopping.
In-store technology is in high demand, and retailers are responding. From mobile apps and payment options to robot support and virtual assistants, it seems the future of retail technology aims to offer a fully autonomous shopping experience.